Major deaths of 2013

Major deaths of 2013

Rest in peace. See you at the movies.

It is always sad that at the end of every year we not only look back with fondness of the films that have been released, but also the talents who have contributed to the arts of cinema that have departed from us.

As we say our bittersweet goodbyes to the year of movies in 2013, we also want to say our thanks to the beloved talents that have gone before us, and hope that they rest easy knowing that their legacy is forever captured on film.

Here are the notable people from the world of cinema, both local and abroad, who we would surely sorely miss as we enter into 2014.

Nagisa Oshima

The highly controversial Japanese director Nagisa Oshima breathed his last at a hospital in Tokyo on 15 January 2013 after being ill since a stroke in 1996.

Oshima got into filmmaking while being an active radical in politics. This would help to his inform his unconventional methods of film making that would defy structure and the purpose of films during a post-war Japan. The director would forever be remembered for his sexually charged films such as "Realms of the Senses" in 1976 and "Empire", which won him the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, among a slew of other films that challenge the conventions of sexuality being shown on film and anti-propaganda commentaries against his home country.

Often cited as the founder of the Japanese New Wave, it was a title that Oshima had personally detested, but had a major influence on future generations of filmmakers, both in Japan and outside of the country.

Lloyd Phillips

New Zealander producer Lloyd Phillips died from a heart attack on 25 January at the age of 63. Phillips started producing in 1981 and in his career he is known for producing major blockbusters such as Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds", "Twelve Monkeys", "The Legend of Zorro", "The Tourist", and most recently "Man of Steel", which is dedicated to him.

Roger Ebert

World renown film critic Roger Ebert died on 4 April after battling thyroid cancer for 11 years which also took away his jaw. Ebert started out as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, and would go on to co-host the "At The Movies with Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert" show with fellow film critic Gene Siskel, that would trademark the phrase of two thumbs up in movies reviews.

Even after having his jaw removed due to cancer, Ebert would continue to write extensively about films by embracing new technologies until his death. Few film critics today could say that they have never been inspired by Ebert and they mourn for a voice that have truly been lost.

Ray Harryhausen

Visual effects master (when the term didn't refer to anything digital) Ray Harryhausen's death was announced on his Facebook and Twitter on 7 May at the age 92. Harryhausen started getting into stop-motion animation after watching "King Kong" in 1933 and would make his first credited effects in "It Came From Beneath the Sea" in 1955. He would eventually go on to create landmarks in visual animations with his creations in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", "Jason and the Argonauts" and his masterpiece in "Clash of the Titans", after which he retired.

Harryhausen's works were a major influence to the next generation of filmmakers that would follow him such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and George Lucas. Lucas himself had said that if it were not for Harryhausen, there wouldn't have been "Star Wars".

S. Shamsuddin

Malaysian comedy actor S. Shamsuddin passed away on 4 June at his residence in Singapore. The 84-year-old actor got his first acting gig by chance when he visited a set in 1948, and got his break when he appeared beside P. Ramlee in "Aloha" in 1950.

Since then, Shamsuddin would be well known throughout the 1950s for his staple appearance beside the late P. Ramlee in "Hang Tuah" and "Panggilan Pulau", but his most memorable role would be as one of the trio in the "Bujang Lapok" series.

Shamsuddin would continue acting even after the studio where he worked for, Studio Malay Productions, was closed in 1967, with film "Eee...Hantu!!!" by Majed Salleh being his last appearance.

Latifah Omar

Just less than a week after S. Shamsuddin's passing, Malaysian actress Latifah Omar was due to undergo surgery for her colon cancer at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre on 9 June, but she didn't make it to the operating theatre when she passed away earlier that day.

Best known for her mole and playing as the challenged married woman (though she was only 17 and unmarried at the time), the 74-year-old actress became popular from the 1950s to the 1970s and is famed for her appearance beside actor Nordin Ahmad. Among her memorable roles are in "Raden Mas", "Hang Jebat", "Bawang Merah Bawang Putih" and "Panggilan Pulau" (also starring the late P. Ramlee and S. Shamsuddin).

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini was found unconscious by his son in a hotel while they were on vacation in Italty on 19 June. He was later confirmed to have suffered from a heart attack and died at the age of 51.

Although Gandolfini's most recognisable role to date could be in the television series "The Sopranos" as mobster Tony Soprano, Gandolfini has made several well-loved film appearances in "Get Shorty", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Where the Wild Things Are" and this year's "Enough Said".

Lau Kar Leung

Lau Kar Leung's two-decade battle with lymphatic cancer ended at the Union Hospital in Hong Kong on 25 June. Lau started his stuntman career in the 1950s in the movies based on the life of master Wong Fei Hung, whom Lau is a fourth generation disciple. He would eventually used his martial arts skills to become an action choreographer for the Shaw Brothers Studio in the 1960s, and would become the first choreographer to transition into becoming a director.

Lau's best known works as a director is "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin", starring Gordon Liu, and "Drunken Master II' with Jackie Chan. When not directing, Lau would continue being an action choreographer for films such as "Drunken Monkey" and his last work for Tsui Hark's "Seven Swords".

Corey Monteith

Corey Monteith was found dead in his hotel room at Vancouver on the afternoon of 13 July. The 31-year-old Monteith was confirmed to have died from a lethal mixture of drugs and alcohol in his system and has a history of substance abuse since he was a teenager.

Monteith would be better known for being Finn Hudson in "Glee", but Monteith was on his way to being a name in the movies with appearances in "Monte Carlo", "Sisters & Brothers", and "Final Destination 3". He was also due to appear in major lead roles in "All the Wrong Reasons" and "McCanick".

Umi Kalthum

Datin Umi Kalthum passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of 24 July when her daughter went to wake her for morning prayers. The 57 year old actress, whose real name is Patimah Bahudin, was known as a beauty when she first appeared in "Raden Mas" in 1959, and would be well known for being the devious counterpart in "Bawang Merah Bawang Putih", starring beside Latifah Omar, who had passed on a month earlier.

Umi would star in films throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, such as "Dosa Wanita", "Esok Masih Ada" and "Medan Jaya". Her last appearance was in Eddie Pak's "Syukur 21" in 2000.

Maimon Mutalib

Actress Maimon Mutalib was in the terminal stage of breast cancer when she died at her home on 7 September after doctors concluded that nothing more could be done. Her cancer was kept a secret until her death at the age of 54.

Unlike her contemporaries, Maimon came to be known only very recently with her first credited appearance in Zaili Sulan's "Qabil Khushry Qabil Igam" in 2007. However, her acting prowess has been recognised with four nominations at the Anugerah Skrin in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Maimon had her first leading role in 2011's "Sumpahan Puaka" and her last role in "Aku Akan Muncul" is also a major role.

Richard Sarafian

Richard Sarafian died at the age of 82 from pneumonia on 18 September. Sarafian started out as a television director in 1961, after meeting with director Robert Altman during the Korean War. He would make his feature directorial debut with "Terror at Black Falls" in 1962, that would eventually lead to his cult favourite Vanishing Point" in 1971.

Paul Walker

It was a tragic afternoon on 30 November when the world learned that one of the men burned in the fires of the car wreck at a parkway in California was actor Paul Walker. Although reports stated that the 40 year old Walker had died upon impact, they had to identify him through his dental records as his body was burned beyond recognition.

Walker started out young as an actor, but wouldn't find great success as an actor until his role in "The Fast & The Furious" alongside Vin Diesel in 2001, and was in the midst of filming the seventh installment of the series when the accident happened.

Other roles played by Walker were in "Pleasantville", "Into the Blue", "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Vehicle 19". His last appearance would be in "Hours".

Peter O'Toole

The great Peter O'Toole was pronounced dead at Wellington Hospital on 14 December at the age of 81, having been through a long bout of sickness. Peter O'Toole was trained as a theater actor by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1952, together with actor Albert Finney. After graduating in 1954, O'Toole made a name for himself in several Shakespearean companies before making his film debut in 1959.

When director David Lean wanted to make "Lawrence of Arabia", the titular role was given to Marlon Brando and former classmate Albert Finney before it was turned down and came to O'Toole. His performance as T.E Lawrence would earn O'Toole his first Academy nomination for Best Actor in 1963. From then on, O'Toole would continue to garner Best Actor nominations for his performances in "Becket" and "The Lion In Winter" (both in the same role as King Henry II), "Goodbye Mr. Chips", "The Ruling Class", "The Stunt Man" and "My Favourite Year", without winning any of them, while giving out memorable performances in "Ratatouille", "The Last Emperor", and "Troy".

When the Academy decided to award him with an Honourary Oscar in 2003 at the age of 71, O'Toole allegedly responded with a letter that he still had plenty of time to 'win the lovely bugger outright' and would get his last nomination with "Venus" in 2006 and lost. At the time of his death, O'Toole would have 8 nominations; making him the actor with the most Academy nominations without winning.

O'Toole last work will be seen in "Katherine of Alexander", scheduled for release in 2014.

Joan Fontaine

Just a day after losing a great, actress Joan Fontaine passed away in her sleep at home on 15 December. She passed away at the age of 96.

Born as Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, she adopted the name Joan Fontaine when she signed on with major studio RKO as an actress and made her official debut in "The Man Who Found Himself" in 1937. Fontaine's break came when she appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's first American film "Rebecca" where she was nominated for Best Actress, but ultimately won the award in Hitchcock's next effort "Suspicion" in 1944.

Aside from her performances, Fontaine's life would be remembered for the real life rivalry between her and her sister and fellow actress Olivia de Havilland, which had brewed since their childhood up until they were no longer on speaking terms in 1975.

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